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Scripture reading: Exodus 12

The Passover was instituted in Exodus 12 and took its name from the LORD, sparing His people the plague that struck the firstborn of Egypt (12:1-14, 27-28). The LORD instructed Moses and Aaron to speak to the people and say, “2This month shall be unto you the beginning of months…3In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb…5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening” (12:2-6).

Moses instructed the people to put the blood of the sacrifice on the side posts and lintel [top of the door facing] of the houses (12:7). The LORD promised, saying “when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt” (12:12-13).

The Sacrificial Lamb (Exodus 12:8-11, 14-19)

Specific instructions were given for the sacrificial lambs (12:8-11, 14-19). We are reminded that the lambs were a “type,” meaning a picture of the ultimate sacrifice for sin, the Messiah, whose name they did not know and who would come in the Father’s time. Israel would have to trust in the substitutionary blood on their doorposts and know by faith that it represented God’s provision, sacrifice, and covenant with Abraham. The lamb was to be roasted whole (12:8-9), and the bones were not to be broken. (Jesus Christ’s death on the cross fulfilled that condition, John 19:31-37; Psalm 34:20). He was the perfect, sinless, spotless “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” John 1:29).

A second element of the Passover was “unleavened bread” (12:15, 17-20). Leaven, the equivalent of yeast today, was not used in bread during the Passover season.  (The leaven used in ancient times was from fermented dough left over from the previous day.) Taking a pinch of fermented dough, and kneading it into a fresh batch of flour, would, in time, permeate the whole of the dough and cause the bread to rise.

The permeating nature of leaven is a symbol in the Scriptures of the nature of sin. Sin in our lives functions the same as leaven in the dough, for “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). In the same way that leaven was not to be in Passover bread, a believer is not to tolerate even a “little sin” in his life.

The Night of the Passover (Exodus 12:29-34)

The night of the Passover came, and “at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh… [to] the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle” (12:29). Pharaoh and all Egypt cried in anguish, “for there was not a house where there was not one dead” (12:30).

The king then sent for Moses and Aaron and charged them, “Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said. 32Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also” (12:31-32).

The same urgency took hold among the Egyptians, who urged Israel to depart “out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men” (12:33). As God had commanded, the children of Israel required “of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: 36And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians” (12:35-36).

Delivered Israel Out of Egypt (Exodus 12:37-51)

Thus, Israel was thrust out of Egypt. The people who began the exodus numbered 600,000 men, not including women and children (12:37). We also read that a “mixed multitude” went out with them. However, they were not of the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (12:38). Those non-Hebrew people would become a curse to Israel in her wilderness journey (Numbers 11:4).

The years of Israel’s stay in Egypt had been “four hundred and thirty years” (12:40). We read, “at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt” (12:41). The sparing of the firstborn and Israel’s exodus from Egypt is memorialized in a perpetual observance of the Passover (12:43). Also, the circumcision of males was to continue as a sign of that nation’s consecration to the LORD (12:44-48). Whether Hebrew or of the mixed multitude, there would be “One Law” that would serve the people (12:49).

Closing thoughts:

In conclusion, we are reminded that God is intolerant of sin among His people. As the leaven was put out, and forbidden in the households during the Passover (Exodus 12:15, 19-20), so should our sins be addressed and confessed in our lives and homes. Drawing a parallel between leaven and sin, Paul wrote in his first epistle to the believers in Corinth:

1 Corinthians 5:6b–8 – “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

Questions to consider:

1) What conditions did God give for the Passover lamb? (Exodus 12:5)

2) What were God’s instructions for the blood of the lamb? (Exodus 12:6-7)

3) What did God say He would do on Passover night? (Exodus 12:12)

4) What did Pharoah do after his son died? (Exodus 12:30-32)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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